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Question For Spouses Re. Inlaws After A Death

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My brother is terminally ill and does not have long to live. I am frightened of losing my relationship with his wife, my sister-in-law after he is gone.

We get along well although the communication can be difficult because she is from another country and culture. She might go back to her home country after my brother dies but I treasure the opportunity to stay in touch with her.

Their marriage has been strained at times because he is not easy to deal with.

Now she is under the added stress of being the primary caregiver.

I have heard that after a death like this, the spouse may want to keep a distance, perhaps permanently, from the spouse's family, especially if we trigger feelings of grief and loss, or unhappy memories of my brother. I understand cannot control how she chooses to grieve.

However, I do wonder what I can start doing now (or continue doing) or saying to her to increase the chances she will feel comfortable maintaining a relationship with me after my brother dies. I have already been supportive and helpful in terms of taking care of my brother, but I am wondering what I might do beyond that, in terms of ensuring a relationship with her that will stand the test of time.

Thanks for any spouses or others who are willing to share their experiences and advice with me.

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Dear Cathyc,

What a wonderful heart you have!

I am so vey sorry to hear about your brother, and I know this time of anticipatory grief and preparing for his leaving must be painful and heartbreaking for everyone.

Perhaps you could simply sit with your SIL and let her know how much you love her and value her company, and that even though your brother, her husband, will not be with you, that you want to stay close to her, that she is still family, and that you will continue to love her. What a comfort that will be to her—to know that she is still loved and appreciated and a part of your family. And it may help her to feel less alone in the days to come.

I am sure others will share more ideas with you, and I hope you will let us know how things are going for you, dear heart.

Blessings to you through this sad time of letting go. If you and your SIL are huggers, this is a perfect time for lots of hugs, by the way.

Peace to your Heart,


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What a wonderful caring person you are! I would just let her know how much you value her and treasure your relationship with her, and let her know after his death as well. In grief, some do pull back, but if you continue to make effort, she will likely not disappear totally from your life. It does take nurturing to sustain a long distance relationship, but in our day of communication and technology, we are so fortunate, there's video chat, phone, etc.

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